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Song, Sprong Become First Ever Chinese and Dutch Draft Picks
- Updated: June 28, 2015
There were some firsts made over the weekend at the NHL Daft, as Andong Song and Daniel Sprong became the first natives of China and Netherlands respectively to be drafted in the National Hockey League.
Song, a defenseman, was picked in the sixth round by the New York Islanders, while Pittsburgh selected Sprong in the second round. Song is a world traveler, who moved to Canada from China when he was nine but currently lives in the United States, where he played for Lawrenceville High School in New Jersey. Sprong has dual-citizenship with Canada.
Sprong, who played right wing, hopes to become the third Dutch-born player to play in the NHL, with Ed Kea and Ed Beers playing in the 1970’s and 1980’s respectively. Sprong is the son of a professional player, as his father played in the Netherlands in the 1990’s. Sprong discovered the NHL when he was seven-years-old when he watched Colorado play in the Stanley Cup Final. “There’s a six-hour time difference between Canada and Amsterdam, so I woke up one day around 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning to watch the Colorado Avalanche play in the Stanley Cup Final when Patrick Roy was still there [as a player],” Sprong said. “I watched those games and told my dad that night I wanted to be there too one day. Ever since then my dream has been to play in the NHL.”
Song is a native of Beijing and still represents his come country at the IIHF level. He recently captained the Chinese team at the 2015 U-18 World Jr. Championships (D-II) where he recorded two assists in five games. He hasn’t met fellow Chinese native Charles Wang, who owns the Islanders. This upcoming season he has plans to attend Philips Andover Academy in Massachusetts as a postgraduate student.
China’s team at the senior level still has a way to go to become competitive at the elite level. They are currently ranked 38th. Women’s hockey in China has grown since it became an Olympic sport in 1998. Currently ranked 16th, the women’s team has appeared in three Olympics including an appearance in the 1998 Bronze medal game where they fell 4-1 to Finland.